HitFix

Interview: Richard Dreyfuss discusses A&E’s ‘Coma’

There’s an error in the headline for this interview, which claims that Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss discusses “Coma.”
To clarify, I sat down with the “Jaws” and “Close Encounters” star back in March to talk about his role in A&E’s new miniseries adaptation of the genre-classic Robin Cook novel, which will premiere on Labor Day.
At that point, I hadn’t seen the telefilm, which focuses on a young medical student (Lauren Ambrose), who discovers that her hospital has an unnaturally large number of patients going into comas. The ensemble cast includes Steven Pasquale, as well as Oscar winners Ellen Burstyn and Geena Davis and Dreyfuss, plus James Woods, Joe Morton and a slew of additional familiar faces.
Normally I don’t talk to actors about projects I haven’t seen, but in addition to being the star of several of my all-time favorite films, Dreyfuss is also one of the smartest and most political actors in Hollywood and the conversation seemed like something I wouldn’t want to miss. 
It doesn’t necessarily come through in the Q&A, but Dreyfuss was in a terrific and cordial mood, but he happened to either be unwilling or unable to talk about his twisty new thriller.
I spent a while trying to pursue a discussion of “Coma” and perhaps its take on the state of healthcare in 21st Century America. As you’ll read, it wasn’t necessarily productive. Eventually, though, I think that we had a good chat about the challenges of finding directors capable of working with actors, as well as the challenges of acting for TV.
Click through for the full interview, which isn’t really about “Coma” at all…
HitFix: I haven’t seen “Coma” yet, so let’s start with the very basics. Tell me about who you play…
Richard Dreyfuss: I play a doctor, the creator of The Institute. And that’s all you’re going to get out of me. 
HitFix: So there are mysterious or twisty things about your character?
Richard Dreyfuss: You saw the original film?
HitFix: I did.
Richard Dreyfuss: Alright. Let’s put it this way: I’m not Michael Douglas.
HitFix: Was the original film a film that you liked back in the day?
Richard Dreyfuss: No. No. It wasn’t a very good film. It was an interesting novel, but the thing that makes this one hopefully better is that Mikael Salomon is a great, great cinematographer and even reading the script, you could tell how it would look.
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